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Diane stabbed at the intercom switch near her and shouted, "Close hatches and launch!" It took her almost thirty seconds to run to the bridge. Just before she reached it, a voice sounded over the intercom, "All hatches secure!" Diane barely reached her seat and strapped in before the G-forces hit her while her ship climbed up into space to be the first to meet the enemy.

"All right, battle stations! Launch fighters!" she commanded as they left the atmosphere behind.

Within another thirty seconds, her cruiser was flanked by a fighter wing ready to do combat. At the same time, other ships gathered about her cruiser. The squadron leader's cruiser took his position at the lead.

"Well done, Dust Bunny! All capital ships use individual initiative when the enemy gets here," the squadron commander radioed.

Within moments, the fighters peeled away to form up a fighter command and formation of their own.

The Malakin warships came streaking in at high speed. A number of them were taken out quickly as several squadrons of warships, both new and old, fired a barrage of weapons at them. The fighters attempted to get inside the Malakin formation. They scored some hits before the Malakin warships got past them to enter Beulah's atmosphere and begin a bombardment of the ground with their heavy weapons.

Both the squadrons and fighter commands changed course to take out the Malakin warships. Even as that happened, the Malakin warships spread out around the planet to fire on anything manmade with one set of weapons while other weapons returned fire in their defense. It was immediately obvious that these were warships being operated by Malakins, themselves, and not computerized robots.

Diane watched the sensor screens as her cruiser closed in on one Malakin warship while her ship's weapons tore the hell out of the enemy ship. She spotted another nearby enemy ship just moments before some of her ship's gunners began pounding away at it. Another cruiser pulled behind the same enemy ship. Moments later, the fire from her ship and the other cruiser made a floating pile of junk out of the Malakin warship.

The RUST BUCKET UNIVERSE series begins in Rust Bucket with the first official discovery of intelligent alien life and Dave Oden's initial rejection, and later acceptance, by the Navy. Attack Butterfly<./I> , the second in the series, introduces the first graduates from the academy under Oden's schooling and concludes in a war with a new race out to conquer The Federation. Dust Bunny finds Oden risking his reputation and his life to strengthen the Universal Rights Bill of the Union of Planets in the midst of a showdown in space.

BOSON BOOKS offers several other science fiction novels by Atk. Butterfly. For an author bio and photo, reviews and a reading sample, visit bosonbooks.com.

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